Signed by the Bears in free agency, speedy veteran receivers Marquise Goodwin and Damiere Byrd are making a positive first impression early in training camp.
"They came in here willing to learn and do everything that we ask them to do," said coach Matt Nagy. "It has been really cool to see them not just do that selfishly for themselves, but they've been great teaching these other receivers that we have and trying to help them out and show them what it's like to practice, and in the meetings, they're locked in. They want to be great."
Goodwin joined the Bears after appearing in 75 NFL games with 40 starts over seven seasons with the Bills (2013-16) and 49ers (2017-19), catching 140 passes for 2,323 yards and 13 touchdowns. The 5-9, 179-pounder opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns as a member of the Eagles.
"He's a leader in that room. He cares about this team and players. He's been on winning teams. That is infectious and it's a hell of a lot better when it comes from the players than it is when it has to come from the coaches. That's what we are kind of trying to strive for: let those guys be the leaders and lead by example."
Goodwin represented the United States at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games as a long jumper. He competed in the event at the Olympic Trials this summer but failed to qualify for the Tokyo Games.
"People like to say that Marquise is a track guy who plays football," Nagy said. "That couldn't be more opposite of what he is. He's a phenomenal route runner with great hands and I'm excited to see him go."
Byrd has played in 44 NFL games with 20 starts over five seasons with the Panthers (2016-18), Cardinals (2019) and Patriots (2020), catching 91 passes for 1,092 yards and four touchdowns. The 5-9, 180-pounder has also averaged 25.2 yards on 14 kickoff returns with one touchdown and 8.1 yards on 14 punt returns.
Last season in New England, Byrd established career highs with 16 games played, 14 starts, 47 receptions and 604 receiving yards.
"He's easy. He does what he's supposed to do," Nagy said. "He's simple. He knows his role. He's fast. He's a smooth runner. Marquise, you can really see and feel that speed. But Damiere, when he's out there catching the ball and he goes, he glides. He's a glider."
“They came in here willing to learn and they’ve done everything we’ve asked them to do.” Bears coach Matt Nagy on receivers Marquise Goodwin and Damiere Byrd
With Goodwin and Byrd joining second-year pro Darnell Mooney, the Bears boast three speed burners in their receivers room.
"I think we'll be able to [create] a lot of mismatches, put the defense in a position where they're not able to do exactly what they want to do," Byrd said. "It's hard to cover three or four sub-4.4 guys on the field at the same time."
The Bears took to the fields at Halas Hall on Friday for the second day of practices in front of fans at Dr Pepper Zero Sugar Training Camp.